Nawaz now not only has a new refurbished wig, renovated heart and less wrinkled face, some of the views recently ventured by him also appear to have been tempered by experience and introspection following his ouster and exile. He has, for instance, asked to repudiate the animosity against India, make the intractable generals and their behemoth establishment answerable to parliament and institute an incisive scrutiny of the security establishment’s actions and allocations. Such pronouncements, ironically even by a test-tube scion of the establishment, vindicate the ideas long illumined by the enlightened and liberal luminaries and silently cherished by the masses to be an essential prerequisite for Pakistan’s prosperity and survival. Their assertion by Nawaz has certainly rattled the taboo and the trepidation they once triggered and spawned a new open debate. But for their realisation, he faces a striking trust deficit, a bedevilled past, several core contradictions and the lack of a really convincing, concrete and compatible course of action. They range from his zinging resolve at Zia’s grave to fulfil his most diabolical mission, berating Benazir for not having gazed menacingly at Rajiv Gandhi during their parleys for peace, infatuation to implement Abbaji’s shariah version and ascend as Ameer-ul-Momineen (supreme ruler) and precipitate the parochial divide by dishing out the cardinal state offices to an obsequious clique from around Model Town. He ruined the economy, eroding even the personal foreign exchange deposits under the pretext of a purported drive for deliverance from foreign loans. He still relishes the same theme of smashing the begging bowl and even if one believes him, ignoring his sibling’s spree to double the Punjab debt burden, the contradictions clouding his new crusade have to be straightened out.
His hatred against General Musharraf and his dictatorship, for instance, still has to transcend personal ire, turning into a general distaste against all dictators, including General Zia. Even his stand against Mush is quite contradictory, because if Mush was a usurper and illegitimate ruler, how can the judicial constellation, including the incumbent chief justice created by him, be accepted as legal. Yet Nawaz raised hell for the restoration of the judges elevated by Mush. Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s stand against Mush certainly stirred an illustrious democratic movement, yet according to basic legal tenets, it can in no way erase his previous collaboration with a dictator. The restoration of this tainted judiciary certainly brought Nawaz some personal gains but viewed in the real wider democratic context and traditions, the nation is stuck with a judiciary that has almost sidelined parliament to monopolise the selection and appointments of new superior judges. Nawaz must seriously reflect that if the new superior judges are inducted by the already serving senior incumbents and not by the elected representatives, how a bond of trust, approval, reverence and the obligation of the masses to submit to their decisions can be created.
His raucous rant against the US similarly repudiates his stand to mellow the inane anti-Indian hatred indicating that he is merely replacing it with an anti-American angst. But he must also recall that he had created almost a similar hysteria by touting his courage to defy the American pressure to thwart the nuclear tests and make Pakistan impregnable. Yet his swaggering icky invincibility brag was soon busted as he rushed to besiege Clinton to save us from the Kargil disaster. He must also have realised that the invincibility was acquired not by the atomic piles but by a discreet patience to shun provocation. He still repeats this maudlin detonation raga and Chaudhry Nisar even nudged the government to shoot the drones by using missiles. Nawaz must realise the implications of alienating the entire democratic and advanced world by pedalling a highly unrealistic and ambiguous stand against terrorism. He must realise that the dreams of prosperity, democracy, development and national dignity cannot coexist with the weird obscurantism of Taliban-like outfits. And also that their tentacles have turned more transnational and Pakistan has neither been able to stem terrorism on its own nor can it ever succeed without the requisite cooperation of the advanced world. So rather than bashing the Americans, he should convince the maverick media and masses of the exigency of an explicit collaboration with the west against terrorism and also for advancement in science, industry, trade and resource development. The west gave him succour, stents, hair and heart treatment when he most needed it. So rather than being trapped into the mullahs’ tirade of malice and hatred, he should push for a symbiotic global interaction. He similarly has to clear the contradictions about the sovereignty and sanctity of our soil and space, which curiously are not torn by the terrorist hoards ravaging this land and carving out monopolistic domains on it. Yet it is threatened by the Americans who happen to be our allies, make no claims on our land or resources but fly in, momentarily, to trounce the terrorist potential.
Such contradictions, however, are an inevitable strand of almost every evolving thought, particularly the one creeping out of the chronically congealed fundamentalist militaristic notions. They could gradually dissolve while steering sincerely towards a proper implementation. So any tangible outcome of his newly anointed thought would be decided by the relevance of his strategies to ensure relief from the worsening scourge of scarcity, inflation and deprivation, which need new and enhanced resources. He emphatically spurns foreign aid and dependence so an evident option for him was to build a broader consensus on realigning priorities like reducing the defence budget to the levels adequately sufficient to squash terrorism, slashing the grandiose designs of matching the Indian and American might and sparing more for the other desperate needs. Yet he miserably flubbed the challenge. Similarly, his impatience to rig up a broader alliance, merely to dislodge the government rather than presenting a viable alternative agenda for a genuine relief to the masses and revival of trade and industry, unfortunately is not compatible with his new pronouncements. It rather smacks of his old IJI craving for chaos, confusion and destabilisation to drown the fledgling democracy. His new look and exposure to the western world, on the contrary, requires a new realism to strive for peace and tranquillity and perform his role on the floor of the House in a more mature, tolerant, constitutional, constructive and less chaotic mode.